What's the Best Age to Introduce Technology and Social Media to Kids?
When to introduce technology and social media to kids
Kids want technology and to be part of the social media at a younger and younger age, but usually lack the responsibility to take care of expensive electronic toys and devices and make good decisions when on social media. With four kids, I have found a good progression of technology that teach them responsibility and care of their devices. This includes handheld gaming system, music players, Ereaders and ipads, laptop computers, and cell phones. Married with this is the relationship with social media such as Facebook, email, Twitter, Snapchat, and whatever else is available these days.
To teach kids responsibility, you want to start with lower priced items and then graduate them to more expensive models and equipment. Of course, my recommendations of ages below are just guidelines, and you should assess the maturity level of your child before investing in any type of technology or invest in an extended warranty.
I don't think a tablet is the right device for a pre teenager. Tablets are good for checking email, watching videos, or surfing the internet. I would rather they had a laptop to do home work and they would still get all the other pieces. Plus, I don't like the fact that they can take the tablet anywhere in the house. When teaching about computer and internet safety, it's best to have a public desktop computer that can't be moved.
Picture of Nook HD sold at Barnes & Noble
Technology for a 3rd Grader - Handheld Gaming System
3rd Grade is a good time to buy their first handheld gaming system. I like staying with the same home gaming console system. If you don't have a home gaming system currently, then I would suggest Nintendo's hand held device which is currently the 3DS system. Nintendo has a lot of kid friendly games and characters like Mario, Sonic, and Zelda, and they are starting to branch out into the more popular sporting game series as well.
Ipods and MP3 Players - Great Electronics Device for a 5th Grader
By 5th grade, kids have started to get into music and figuring out the internet and such. The next electronics device is an mp3 player and an apple ipod. The way you select this electronic device is to determine how you are going to buy music for it. Apple products if you are going to use ITunes, otherwise, many music programs will convert CD's to MP3 tracks for various types of MP3 players.
eReaders for 6th Graders - Nook or Kindle?
The next electronic device is for a 6th grader. eReaders like Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook are great devices for 6th graders and most middle school students. I would suggest getting the color version as those are typically compatible with magazine subscriptions as well.
However, a simple black and white version is cheaper and will let you determine if they will take to such a device. You will need a home wifi system with these devices.
Technology for 7th Graders - Laptop Computer
7th grade seems to be the time for a laptop as these preteens are doing more project work in school. I prefer the full screen laptops with at least a 15 inch screen, to the smaller and less expensive notebook type computers. Of course, be prepared for the Facebook question. I don't let my kids get on Facebook until they are thirteen.
Digital Camera - before their 8th grade trip
My kids love digital cameras. I think all kids love taking pictures and the invention of the digital camera is great as you only spend money printing the pictures you want. This allows kids to take as many pictures as they want. Always look for the biggest optical zoom as well as the largest number of pixels for a camera.
Cellular Phones for Teenagers
The rule in my house is that you don't get a cellular phone until you are a teenager, 13 years old. This seems to be the right amount of maturity and responsibility to take care of this particular electronic device outside of the home. Plus, if you are not going to buy a data plan with the phone, then 13 year olds seem to understand this better than preteens.